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Link Between SIBO and IBS
Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth
and Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Author:   Peter Sedesse MD

IBS and SIBO Treatments

A number of doctors are starting to treat IBS patients without confirming SIBOs existence since the treatment of SIBO is often effective at the reduction of IBS symptoms. Oral antibiotics or probiotics are the most common treatments for small intestine bacterial overgrowth. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that effectively compete with harmful bacteria found in the small intestines. These bacteria can be found in yogurt. Both treatments are extremely effective.

IBS and SIBO suspected to be linked and share symptoms

There is a suspected link between small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) because the two have very similar symptoms. There is no test to confirm the existence of Irritable Bowel Syndrome meaning it has always been difficult to diagnose. The elimination of other possibilities such as inflammation, infections and cancer are typically how the diagnosis is achieved.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome and SIBO Testing

A hydrogen breath test is typically used to diagnose SIBO. This test often gives positive results for patients thought to have IBS. The ability of the patient to function normally in society is reduced drastically by both irritable bowel syndrome and small intestine bacterial overgrowth. Abnormal bowel habits such as alternating between extreme instances of constipation and diarrhea characterize irritable bowel syndrome. There is typically no drastic intervention since irritable bowel syndrome is not a life threatening condition.

Stress, IBS and SIBO

The importance of stress on overall health has become more prominent in recent years bringing this under question. Major health problems can result even though IBS is not a life threatening condition. There is often a fear of traveling long distances or eating in public places had by those suffering from IBS. Those suffering from the condition have a reduced quality of life resulting from the social embarrassment associated with major symptoms such as extreme gas and flatulence.

Antibiotics as Treatment for IBS and SIBO

The overuse of antibiotics is the most controversial issue when it comes to the link between IBS and SIBO. An abnormality in the muscle tissue surrounding the intestines is what causes SIBO and probably IBS. The gas formation in IBS and bacterial overgrowth in SIBO is a result of the muscles being unable to move material effectively through the intestines which is the major cause of both SIBO and IBS. Oral antibiotics treat the secondary problem and not the actual cause. Oral antibiotics have to be given on a regular if not continual basis as a result in order to relieve symptoms.

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